In today’s world, sugar is one of the most common ingredients found in prepackaged food. We know the risk associated with sugar but we still crave it. When we need a quick spike of energy we tend to grab a sugary snack for that extra kick. Our glucose and insulin levels start to rise and suddenly, we feel revitalized. However, this feeling doesn’t last. Coming down from a sugar high leaves us feeling more sluggish than before. The truth is, our bodies aren’t necessarily craving sugar but rather trying to tell us that it’s lacking something more nutritious.
Here are a few possibilities that could be causing your sweet tooth to go into overdrive.
A sugar craving could be a signal of a deeper problem such as a lack of vital nutrients in the body. Studies suggest that 75 percent of Americans are deficient in magnesium, which leads to symptoms such as high blood pressure, lethargy, and insomnia. Our bodies tell us that we’re lacking magnesium, but we misread the signs and reach for a chocolate bar instead. Cacao may be rich in magnesium, but the added sugar in chocolate only causes inconsistent spikes in our blood sugar levels. Much like a bandaid, chocolate only masks these symptoms for a while but certainly doesn’t solve the underlying problem. Avocados, nuts, figs, and leafy greens are a healthier source of magnesium that will alleviate the symptoms associated with this deficiency.
It’s no secret that stress can trigger an array of health conditions such as anxiety, high blood pressure, and insomnia. Our bodies are naturally equipped to deal with small amounts of stress, but the problem arises when it becomes a chronic condition. Chest pains, fatigue, mood swings, headaches, and low energy are just a few symptoms associated with stress. One of the many reasons we reach for something sweet when we are stressed is because it triggers the release of serotonin, a feel-good hormone. The body is craving a “pick me up” but we’re getting it from the wrong source. Instead of stocking up on gummy bears, take some time out of the day to go to the gym. Exercise is great for quieting the mind and boosting endorphins, another feel-good hormone.
Our digestive tract relies on numerous strains of healthy bacteria to function properly. These microorganisms are vital for preventing serious health conditions such as autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular disorders, and food-related disorders. However, not all bacteria are beneficial. Sugar cravings are often triggered when there is an imbalance of bacteria in our gut. The reason behind this is because microbes thrive off sugar, which often leads to an overpopulation of harmful bacteria. By eating too many sugary foods, the bacteria in your digestive tract can become dependant on it and start rejecting healthier foods when they are reintroduced. The only way to restore a normal gut flora is to cut out any foods that are high in sugar and replace them with foods that contain probiotics. Yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and other fermented foods will help promote healthy bacteria strains and eliminate any harmful microbes.
Sugar cravings may be the cause of an underlying problem, but this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a bar of chocolate now and then. Moderation, after all, is the key to living a happy, healthy life.